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In recent years, the alcoholic beverage category has seen an influx of new entrants and products being introduced. So what can an established, well-known brand do to stay at the forefront of this crowded, ever-changing landscape? How do they remain innovative to meet consumers’ needs? 

A large, well-known manufacturer of alcoholic beverages needed a ready-made, yet cost-efficient way to connect with consumers and conduct research to address important business questions as they arose. Due to the agile and ever-changing nature of the market and industry, the solution needed the ability to facilitate myriad methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative.

We created a long-term, agile, web-based community to help the client team connect with thousands of consumers they could leverage for immediate feedback on their most critical business questions.

Problem

Our client, an alcoholic beverage manufacturer, approached us to create a quick and cost-effective way for their innovation and brand teams to connect with consumers and gain critical insights. Our challenge was to create a quick-turn system that would enable our client to maintain a direct and ongoing link with thousands of consumers on an ongoing basis – yet also be agile, flexible, and enable any kind of research—qual or quant—as needed.

Result

As a result of the long-term online community, we have completed over 125 unique research projects (and counting). These projects have ranged from early-stage development to end stage and have included packaging refreshes, concept and claims feedback, taste tests for new flavors and formulations, and naming new products. 

The client has been able to utilize whatever methodology (qual or quant) needed to answer their important business questions, and they have received results more quickly than with traditional research. Via frequent feedback, results are incorporated into the business so that new questions can be formulated and researched to allow the client to stay abreast of the ever-changing needs of consumers. 

Solution

To help our client answer their important business questions, we created an online community with approximately 5000 consumers of various alcoholic beverages (including beer, wine, and spirits). Members of the online community are between the ages of 21 and 59 and are located throughout the United States – as well as a supplemental group in Canada – with several subsets of consumers in major cities (to facilitate in-person research, when needed). The panel undergoes a refresh every six months to remove any participants who are no longer active, as well as to keep perspectives fresh and replace with sample of importance for upcoming innovation projects. 

The community is housed on an online platform that enables a myriad of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Best of all, our client is able to get feedback in days – and sometimes hours. Quantitative tools such as polls and surveys, heat maps, shelf sets, Max Diff, and TURF are used to quantify participants’ awareness, attitudes, preferences, and perceptions of appeal for our client and their products. Online qualitative tools such as digital discussions, video and journal entries, webcam-based interviews, and markup and sorting activities complement and supplement quantitative learnings. In-person focus groups and interviews enable participants to engage in liquid tastings, discussions, and CLTs. 

We maintain member engagement in a variety of ways. For example, an always-on, member-led open forum allows for discussions that cover a wide range of topics, including key categories and everyday life. One- and two-question quick polls can be fielded to the entire community or a subset, with results available in 24-48 hours. 

Clients are also kept engaged with the research via frequent meetings, mid-point check-ins, email summaries, and ongoing feedback. These methods allow both the research and client teams to quickly adjust research plans to ensure the needed insights are captured. 

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